Cherry Lane Mentor Project Announces its Mentors and Playwrights

By: Dec. 06, 2016
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Cherry Lane (Angelina Fiordellisi, Founding Artistic Director; Seri Lawrence, Janio Marrero, Producing Artistic Directors) is proud to announce this year's playwrights and mentors for their Obie Award-winning Mentor Project, culminating with fully-staged productions presented at Cherry Lane (38 Commerce St. in NYC) from February 22 to May 6, 2017.

This year's mentors include Stephen Adly Guirgis (Pulitzer Prize for Between Riverside and Crazy, Tony nominee for The Motherf***er with the Hat), Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (McArthur Genius Award Recipient, Pulitzer Prize-finalist for Gloria, Obie award-winner for Appropriate and An Octoroon) and Lucy Thurber (Lilly and Obie Award winner and writer of The Insurgents and The Hill Town Plays).

Ms. Thurber will mentor REN DARA SANTIAGO, whose play THE SIBLINGS PLAY will kick off the 19th season of the Mentor Project, on February 22 - March 4. Mr. Adly Guirgis will mentor NATHAN YUNGERBERG whose play ESAI'S TABLE will be presented March 22 - April 1. And Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins will mentor Jocelyn Bioh whose play NOLLYWOOD DREAMS will be presented April 25 - May 6.

THE SIBLINGS PLAY by Ren Dara Santiago, mentored by Lucy Thurber (February 22 - March 4)

Three siblings fight to keep each other safe from the demons their parents created. For Mars, Leon and Marie, what defines family is survival. As love seems to leave them they begin to battle their own desires and destiny, praying at the end of the day they'll still have one another.

ESAI'S TABLE by Nathan Yungerberg, mentored by Stephen Adly Guirgis (March 22 - April 1)

Esai's Table follows the journey of three young black men on a mythical night sea journey atop a magical old table. Through artistic expression and personal revelations, we learn why they've been chosen to navigate this journey. Destiny meets eternity in this story of black lives, friendship, family, and love.

NOLLYWOOD DREAMS by Jocelyn Bioh, mentored by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (April 25 - May 6)

In the 1990s, Nollywood (Nigerian film industry) is on the rise. Ayamma dreams of leaving her job at her parents' travel agency and becoming a star. When she auditions for a new film by Nigeria's hottest director, tension flares with his former leading lady - as sparks fly with Nollywood's biggest heartthrob.

Announcement Night Celebration will take place on Monday, December 5th at 8pm and will feature this year's three playwrights and their mentors reading selections from their work. This event is FREE and open to the public. Tickets must be reserved at

The Mentor Project - winner of an Obie Award for its dedication to helping young playwrights develop new work - each year partners a young author with a seasoned professional for a year of script work, rewrites, casting, rehearsals and a full production at Cherry Lane. Mentor Project is also the recipient of the James Kirkwood Award for American Playwrights.


Jocelyn Bioh (Playwright) is a 1st generation Ghanaian-American writer/peformer from New York City. She has her B.A. in English and Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Theatre-Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts. Jocelyn is a commissioned playwright with Manhattan Theatre Club and the Atlantic Theater Company and she is a Resident Playwright at LCT3. Her plays include: African Americans (Produced at Howard University 2015; Southern Rep Ruby Prize Award Finalist 2011; O'Neill Center Semi-Finalist, 2012), Nollywood Dreams (Kilroy's List 2015) and her new play School Girls (Kilroy's List 2016.) Her musical The Ladykiller's Love Story, which she conceived the story and wrote the libretto, with music/lyrics by Cee Lo Green, is currently in development with Hi-Arts NYC. As an actress, Jocelyn's credits include: Men on Boats (Playwrights Horizons,) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Broadway; Tony Award Winner for Best Play, 2015), An Octoroon (Soho Rep, Obie Award Winner for Best Play, 2014), Booty Candy (Wilma Theater), Seed (Classical Theater of Harlem, Audelco Award Nominee), and Marcus; Or The Secret of Sweet (City Theatre). She also originated the role of "Topsy" in the world premiere of Neighbors (The Public Theater, Audelco Award Nominee). TV: Former Cover Girl spokesmodel, "Blue Bloods" (NBC), "The Detour" (TBS), "The Characters" (Netflix), "Louie" (FX), and "One Life to Live" (ABC).

REN DARA SANTIAGO (Playwright) is a Harlem-based playwright and actor of Filipino and Puerto Rican descent. She writes inclusive, current, empathic stories that breed bravery and compassion in conversation. She has been nominated for the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award both in 2015 and 2016 for her family drama, The Siblings Play, which has been workshopped at Labyrinth Theater under a playwright's apprenticeship, MCC Theater (PlayLabs), and has a home with Middle Voice at Rattlestick, where she is currently an Artistic Producer.

NATHAN YUNGERBERG (Playwright) is a Brooklyn-based playwright. His plays include Esai's Table, The Son of Dawn, Pousada Azul, Evelyn Dreams of Horses, Orchids and Polka Dots and Brush Strokes. Nathan's work has been developed or featured by The Playwrights' Center, Crowded Fire Theater, The Brooklyn Museum, The Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Brava Theater, The Lark, The Fire This Time Festival, 48 Hours in Harlem, The National Black Theatre, The Hansberry Project, The National Black Theatre Festival, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Blackboard Reading Series, The Dramatists Guild, Flashpoint Theater, The August Wilson Red Door Project, New Venture Theater, The Brooklyn Generator, Multistages theater and BBC Radio Afternoon Drama. Nathan is one of seven black playwrights commissioned by The New Black Fest for HANDS UP: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments. Awards and honors: The 2016 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (Semifinalist), Ken Davenport 10-Minute Play Festival (Winner), 11th Annual InspiraTO Festival (Finalist), Blue Ink Playwriting Award (Semifinalist), and PICK OF THE VINE 2016 at Little Fish Theatre (Semifinalist).

Stephen Adly Guirgis (Mentor) is a member and former co-artistic director of LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. His most recent play, Between Riverside and Crazy (dir: Austin Pendleton) premiered at Atlantic Theater Company, moved to Second Stage Theatre, and garnered numerous awards including the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Other plays include: The Motherf***er with the Hat (6 Tony nominations, including Best Play, dir: Anna D Shapiro), Den of Thieves (directed by Max Daniels), Dominica The Fat Ugly Ho (dir: Adam Rapp), as well as Our Lady of 121st Street, Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Public Theater) and The Little Flower of East Orange (Public Theater) -- all five directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and world premiered at LAByrinth Theater Company. In London, his plays have premiered at The Donmar Warehouse, The Almeida (dir: Rupert Goold), The Hampstead (Robert Delamere), and at The Arts Theater in the West End (Dir: Philip Seymour Hoffman). As an actor, he has appeared in theater, film and television, including roles in Alejandro Inarritu's Oscar winning Birdman, Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret, Todd Solondz's Palindromes, and Brett C. Leonard's Jailbait opposite Michael Pitt. He co-created and executive produced Netflix's "The Get Down" with Baz Luhrmann. Other awards include: the Yale Wyndham-Campbell Prize, The Harold & Mimi Steinberg Award, PEN/Laura Pels Award, Whiting Award, TCG fellowship, Fringe First Award, NY Drama Critics Circle, L.A. Drama Critics Prize, and a Lucy Lortel Award. A former violence prevention specialist and H.I.V. educator, he lives in New York City.

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins's (Mentor) credits include Everybody (forthcoming at the Signature Theatre), War (LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater), Gloria (Vineyard Theatre; Pulitzer Prize-finalist), Appropriate (Signature Theatre; Obie Award), An Octoroon (Soho Rep; Obie Award) and Neighbors (The Public Theater). He is a Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre and under commissions from LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater, MTC/Sloan, and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. His recent honors include the MacArthur Fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, the Benjamin Danks Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation Theatre Award, the Steinberg Playwriting Award, and the Tennessee Williams Award. He currently teaches in the Hunter College Playwriting MFA Program, where is a Master-Artist-in-Residence.

Lucy Thurber (Mentor) is the author of twelve plays: Where We're Born, Ashville, Scarcity, Killers and Other Family, Stay, Bottom of the World, Monstrosity, Dillingham City, The Locus, Perry Street, The Insurgents and Transfers. Transfers was part of The New York Stage and Film 2016 Powerhouse Season also in the summer of 2016 Orpheus in the Berkshires at The Williamstown Theatre Festival. The Insurgents was produced at LAByrinth Theater Company and Contemporary American Theater Festival. Her five-play cycle The Hill Town Plays was produced Off Broadway by Rattlestick Playwright's Theater in conjunction with The Cherry Lane Theatre, The Axis Theater and The New Ohio Theatre. Lucy's theatrical homes are Rattlestick Playwright's Theater, The Atlantic Theater, Labyrinth Theater, New Dramatists and The Lark. Lucy wrote the text for QUIXOTE, conceived and directed by Lear deBessonet, a site-specific performance with the Psalters made for and with The Broad Street Community, also with Lear deBessonet and produced by 13P, Monstrosity. Lucy is published by Dramatists Play Service. She is an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of 13P, LAByrinth Theater Company, Rising Phoenix Rep and New Neighborhood. She got to spend an amazing time with Sundance Theatre at UCROSS in Wyoming and Lucy has been commissioned by Playwrights Horizons, The Contemporary American Theatre Festival, House on The Moon, Yale Rep. and Williamstown Theatre Festival. She is the recipient of Manhattan Theatre Club Playwriting Fellowship, the 1st Gary Bonasorte Memorial Prize for Playwriting, a proud recipient of a LILLY AWARD and an OBIE Award for The Hill Town Plays.

One of the most renowned theatres in the country, Cherry Lane Theatre has produced a large succession of plays by leading writers from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee and Harold Pinter. Under the artistic leadership of Angelina Fiordellisi since 1996, Cherry Lane remains devoted to developing and producing new works for the stage. Diane Alianiello is General Manager, Seri Lawrence and Janio Marrero are Interim Producing Artistic Directors, Hillary Cohen is Director of Individual and Institutional Giving and Reed Ridgley is Grants Manager.

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